Bryn Mawr Trust has partnered with National Disability Institute (NDI) to provide affordable loans, helping residents of New Jersey purchase the assistive technology they need.
Assistive technology (AT) refers to products or devices that can improve the life of an individual. Examples of AT include hearing aids, modified vehicles, stair climbers, wheelchairs, computer equipment, smart home devices, home accessibility modifications and business equipment.
“Working with a nonprofit partner like National Disability Institute to help people with disabilities focus on their financial health and wellness is a real privilege,” stated Frank Leto, BMBC President and CEO. “BMT is pleased to be a part of the positive change improving the lives of people living with disabilities’ with loans for Assistive Technology.”
NDI received funding for the program, which is one of 47 nationally, from the U.S. Department of Education. The loans range from $500 to $30,000. NDI buys-down the interest rate, making it possible for approved loan applicants to obtain loans at four percent interest, a significant cost savings for borrowers. NDI also guarantees the loans, allowing for more favorable lending terms.
“We’re very fortunate that we were able to strike up this collaborative effort with Bryn Mawr Trust because, in many states, programs were not able to find a lender to issue and service the loans. That is important because it creates an opportunity for the person, who may be a senior, someone with a disability or veteran, to initiate a relationship with a financial institution in their community and obtain the AT they need,” Laurie Schaller, Manager of Financial Empowerment, NDI, said.
In early 2018, Susan Tachau, CEO of Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF), and a NDI Board Member, introduced the two organizations to each other with the hope that they could build a successful relationship – much like PATF’s and BMT’s – to help individuals with disabilities in New Jersey finance the assistive technology they need.
NDI takes calls regarding requests for the assistive technology loans, and referrals for the blending and braiding of funds are made, in many cases, further reducing costs for those who need AT. Information sessions around AT, spending plan development and the loan application process are provided monthly, and archives are available on NDI’s website. Participants have indicated that the information provided during these sessions help them manage their finances and take steps towards improving their credit.
People who may be denied a loan at a bank, credit union or directly through an AT vendor may be approved through this program. Schaller indicated that NDI makes sure the loans are affordable for applicants, in many cases, saving applicants thousands of dollars in instances where some assistive technology vendors may charge higher interest rates.
Individuals who apply for a loan are required to submit documentation, including recent bills and sources of income, to NDI. NDI prequalifies applicants and sends the information to Bryn Mawr Trust for final approval. Bryn Mawr Trust issues and services the loans. Schaller said nationally, these programs have a 94 to 98 percent repayment rate.
NDI is currently accepting applications for assistive technology loans. For more information, visit assistivetechloans.com or call 202-449-9521.